Police are investigating the possible theft of three nationally-important early Medieval sculptured stones from the remains of a church on the outskirts of Darlington.
All Saints Church in Sockburn is a rare surviving example of a pre- and post-Norman Conquest church site and graveyard.
Its collection of late 9th and 10th century Viking sculptured stones are unrivalled in the country.
Many of these were collected in the 19th century by the landowner Sir Edward Buckley who had part of the ruined church reconstructed and re-roofed specifically “for the reception and preservation of the ancient stones lying among the ruins.”
The church discovered the loss of the items last week and notified police, but it’s thought they could have gone missing at any point since September 2015.
The three items missing are:
- a well-preserved fragment of a carved bear’s head, a Viking grave marker, dating to the 9th or 10th centuries which measures 24.5cm at its widest
- a fragment of Viking runic inscription which translated means “in memory of Mael-Muriel/…raised cross”, also dating to the same period
- a fragment of a Medieval cross slab carved with a small sword
Mark Harrison, National Policing and Crime Advisor for Historic England said:
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Durham said: